All of that preseason talk of the demise of the 49ers might have just been a bit premature don't you think? True, we only have a small one week sample to look at and the matchup was favorable, but the 49ers were clearly the better team on Sunday. A few thoughts can be offered after re-digesting the game, which should give fans a bit more hope.
Offense: Any question that this offense was not going to be more explosive were put to rest in the first quarter of the game and after just five offensive plays and two touchdowns to Vernon Davis the 49ers held a comfortable 21-0 lead. By my count, the 49ers didn't even call a run play until their third drive of the game. Does this point to a dramatic shift by the team? The answer to that might be a little too early to determine, but what is for sure is the team should be able to eat up yards when they want to (first drive) and eat up clock when they need to (last two drives) during games. This team will be exciting because fans won't know what they are going to get from game to game and possession to possession. One thing that is clear, this team wants to score more points. The only drawback is that we put up nothing in the second half. What turned into an 11 point win could have and should have been a 20 point win.
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Running Backs: Look, I'm the biggest fan of Frank Gore. Here is a guy that has been one of the most professional players the team has ever had and not to mention productive. Congratulations to Frank for joining the 10,000 yard club this weekend. If that doesn't get him a strong look at Canton when he finally decides to hang it up, I would be surprised. Even with Gore's body of work, if Carlos Hyde is not starting for the 49ers by week six, I will be totally shocked because Hyde is simply too good to not touch the ball fifteen times a game. Hyde has something that Gore just doesn't have anymore, and that is second level speed. They look the same running, but wow is Hyde going to be special.
Defense: It is hard to take a lot out of the defensive performance. Are the 49ers still that good or is Tony Romo just that bad? I think it might be a little of both really. What you get with the 49ers is sound fundamental football. They tackle well and aren't ever really grossly out of place. I'm not sure if the 49ers really missed Bowman yesterday in the run game or if the Cowboys just have that good of a run blocking offensive line. The secondary still remains a work in progress, but there is no doubt that there is some good depth there with Johnson and Cox. Good job on the team for keeping them both, but with Brock and Culliver apparently being made of fine china, look for Chris Cook to be active on game days for a while.
Pass Rush: If you would have told me that the 49ers would have sacked Romo three times without Aldon Smith, I might have taken the under bet on Friday. However, the 49ers showed good push when rushing the passer which no doubt helped the depleted secondary. The strength of the 49ers pass defense since Harbaugh came to town has always been the four man pass rush and it was on display Sunday against the Cowboys as I personally didn't see much blitzing being done. I would have liked to see a better showing by Lemonier (outside of his overturned fumble return touchdown), I thought Lynch played well when in the game and even appeared to have a batted ball.
Officiating: Look, I might be a little biased on this because I am a lover of defense, but this is getting to be a bit much. I know the NFL is looking to keep ratings high and fantasy football owners interested, but the illegal contact and defensive holding is just out of control. I'm all for if it is blatant, but there was a least a few calls in the second half that kept our defense on their field when they shouldn't have been called. Don't even get me started on the offensive pass interference on Lloyd that negated Vernon's big gain in the second half. It isn't a big deal yet, but just wait until it costs a team a game when it was called incorrectly. That is when the real uproar will come.